ComiConverse Expert Contributor.
MORE NEWS FROM THE WEB
Marvel has been had the most successful comic book movie adaptations of the past decade. ComiConverse contributor Joseph Gioeli looks at Marvel’s formulas for success on the big screen vs. their Netflix shows, as well as giving his view on how they can find continued success.
DISCLAIMER: Even though I reference Rotten Tomatoes ratings in this article, I do not personally agree with all of their ratings and opinions.
Marvel Movies v. Netflix Series: the Formula to Success
The obvious and battle between comic book fans is between Marvel and DC, but for a moment, let’s focus on Marvel’s battle with itself.
Since it began in 2008, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been the most popular and profitable series of comic book film adaptions ever. No movies or characters (other than perhaps Star Wars) has come close to rivaling the MCU’s popularity among fans and critics alike. With 12 out of their 14 films reaching a score of well above 70% on Rotten Tomatoes, as well as eclipsing the $180 million mark at the domestic box office, it is fair to say that nearly everyone loves these movies.
The MCU mixes childhood nostalgia, exhilarating storylines, complex character portrayals, and a hint of comedic relief. This may be the perfect recipe for a comic book adaptation movie. These are movies for the entire family. They allow older generations who adored these comic books as children to see their heroes come to life on the silver screen. They also introduce those same characters to a brand new generation of fans.
The Netflix Series
Conversely, Marvel is setting up an entirely different feel through their shows on Netflix. With Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage already premiering – all very successful – and Iron Fist, The Defenders and a standalone Punisher series all set to debut in 2017, Marvel is bringing a grittier street-level feel to their universe.
With the Netflix series, Marvel is getting away from their popular world-saving heroes and focusing on the heroes who, in some cases, don’t even want to be called “heroes”. These are people with powers who are to varying degrees trying to do what is right; none of them are seeking fame or notoriety.
These shows, just like the MCU, do exceptionally well among fans and critics. All three streaming shows currently hold a score above 85% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Regardless the characters, or the way in which they are presented, there seems to be a common formula with Marvel:
- Introduce complex characters with their own movie or show.
- Combine those heroes at a later date for a massive, nerd-tastic viewing.
Marvel gave Captain America, Thor and Iron Man their own movies — in the case of Iron Man, two movies — before putting them all together in the most groundbreaking superhero movie to date, The Avengers (2012). Marvel would do this two more times by the end of 2016 with Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) and Captain America: Civil War (2016). Since its initial film in 2013, (Man of Steel), the DCEU has tried to emulate Marvel’s formula with limited success. What DC failed to do was adequately introduce nuanced characters the audience could invest in before attempting a spectacle-heavy team up adventure. Marvel plans to further extend this growing conglomeration by adding the Guardians of the Galaxy, Dr. Strange, Captain Marvel and possibly Tom Holland’s Spider-Man into the mix.
As far as the Netflix series go, it is almost an identical formula, just on a much smaller scale. By the time The Defenders premiers, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist will all have at least one season of their shows. The Defenders, much like The Avengers, will combine several aspects from several different shows. The following characters from Daredevil will be making an appearance in The Defenders: Matt Murdock, Elektra Natchios, Claire Temple, Foggy Nelson, Stick, and Karen Page. Several characters from Jessica Jones will also be included: Jessica Jones, Trish Walker, Malcolm Ducasse, and Jeri Hogarth. Finally, Luke Cage and Misty Knight from Luke Cage will also be in The Defenders. The introduction of these characters and their later inclusion in team-up stories is what creates the unified world of the Marvel films.
In order to continue their success, Marvel has almost no changes to make. They have perfected a successful superhero adaption formula that is proven to win critical acclaim and retain an audience. To change anything now would be foolish. One thing that Marvel could do is introduce more cameos between the movies and the shows. There have been small cameos, such as referencing the “Battle of New York” in the first season of Daredevil, but the more the merrier in my opinion.
Do you think Marvel has created the perfect comic book film/show formula? Are there things they could be doing better?
Let us know in the comments below!
Joseph Gioeli is a contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @JoeGioeli
Discussing Marvel’s formulas of success as well as how they can continue to be successful